Notebook: Another MAC QB lands with Steelers

PITTSBURGH – Tim Couch worked out for the Steelers late last week but wasn't signed. He was probably rejected because he didn't play college football in the Mid-American Conference.

The Pittsburgh Steelers rounded out their MAC quota Sunday by drafting Bowling Green quarterback Omar Jacobs in the fifth round. Jacobs joins a roster that includes Miami of Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger and Eastern Michigan's Charlie Batch.

"I call those guys the forefathers," said Jacobs. "Those guys have paved the way for the rest of us."

Jacobs was touted as a potential first-round quarterback last summer after throwing for a Division 1-A record ratio of 41 touchdowns to four interceptions as a redshirt sophomore in 2004. He was the MVP of the GMAC Bowl that season and entered the 2005 season as one of the nation's highest-ranked quarterbacks.

In 2005 Jacobs completed 61 percent of his passes and his ratio of 26-7 wasn't as stellar as the previous season's, but it wasn't a reason for the 6-3 7/8, 224-pounder to last late into the fifth round this weekend.

"I was a little surprised," Jacobs said. "But I'm just happy to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers."

Jacobs was Josh Harris's backup at Bowling Green in 2003 before moving into the starting lineup. His stats raised eyebrows in 2004 and his mechanics did the same in 2005. His throwing motion is a mix of a three-quarters and sidearm delivery with a push-type release. It's often described by scouts as "funky," but Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple isn't concerned.

"I think everybody throws a little bit different," Whipple said. "His throws were on time and in a place where the receivers can make a play."

Will Whipple change the delivery in any way?

"No," he said. "You just ask, does he throw a tight spiral? He did. He threw a tight spiral. The ball should be easy for the receiver to catch. I'm not going to change that. He's 6-4 and (releases) a little low, but I didn't see him get a whole lot of balls batted down on the tapes that I watched."

The Steelers considered drafting another MAC quarterback, local product Bruce Gradkowski of Toledo, but Whipple explained why the Steelers chose Jacobs.

"The size factor came in with Omar, and he came out (of school) early," Whipple said. "I really felt that was a big thing with Ben. Give this kid another year back in that system."

Jacobs will be the Steelers' No. 3 quarterback at the May 13-15 minicamp. Rod Rutherford, who was on the practice squad last season, aggravated a foot injury and underwent surgery last week and isn't expected back until training camp.

TOUGH ENOUGH?

Purdue tight end Charles Davis (6-6, 260) was the second pick of the fifth round. He was asked about a draft guide's criticism that he lacks toughness.

"Everybody is entitled to their own opinion," he said.

Davis was then asked about winning an award called "Player You'd Least Want to Meet in a Dark Alley" from a poll of Big Ten players in the Champaign News-Gazette.

Is he too tough or not tough enough?

"I will show you when I get there," he said with a laugh.

Davis caught 78 passes as a four-year starter on a Purdue team that doesn't consistently use a tight end in its spread offense. He also played basketball at Purdue as a reserve in 2004.

"I will do whatever they need," Davis said. "I am humble, I am hungry and I am ready to go. I will play special teams if they need it. I will block, I will catch, I will run, I will wash the dishes. It doesn't matter."

JOLLY GIANT'S COUSIN

Steelers sixth-round pick Marvin Philip (6-1, 307), a center from Cal, is the second cousin of Oregon first-round nose tackle Haloti Ngata. Philip scored a decisive win when the two teams met this year.

"He's a jolly green giant," said Philip, who knew how to deal with the 6-4, 350-pound Ngata.

"I use leverage. At the combine I measured out to have the longest arms of any center other then Ryan Cook. Being able to come out low and get underneath the pads of the defensive lineman (is the key)."

The 24-year-old Philip is of Tongan ancestry. He went on a two-year Mormon mission and came back in 2003. He was named to the All-Pac 10 team this past season.

"I'm familiar with a lot of the players they have, but Dermontti Dawson is one of my favorite centers," he said of his new team. "I'm excited that the Steelers are coming off a Super Bowl win. Words can't explain how I feel right now."

NEW SHORT-YARDAGE BACK?

Cedric Humes was a rarity in a draft full of small running backs. The 6-0 7/8, 233-pounder from Virginia Tech was the Steelers' final pick. The seventh-rounder rushed for 752 yards (4.6 avg.) and scored 11 touchdowns last season.

"There weren't very many big backs out there," said running backs coach Dick Hoak. "This guy and about two or three others were the only big ones out there."

Humes was downgraded by scouts for his 4.7 40 time, but has the strength and power to make a team that values such assets in runners.

"He'll move the pile," Hoak said. "You get him down in the red zone and he doesn't have to run that far. He has been really productive on the goal line for them and if things work out like they did with Jerome (Bettis) last year, he may be the guy to fill that role."

Rumors swirled around Steelers headquarters Sunday that they were attempting to trade for Atlanta power runner T.J. Duckett. Cowher was asked about the rumors, but declined comment.

"We got Cedric Humes," he said.

SPLIT RETURN MEN

First-round pick Santonio Holmes shared punt-return duties at Ohio State with Ted Ginn on every punt. Cowher was asked if he'd consider doing the same with Holmes after drafting another punt returner, Willie Reid, in the third round.

"The thought went through my mind as I was driving away after we picked Willie Reid," Cowher said. "It has been done. I don't know if it's been done on a regular basis, but people have done it before."


Steel City Insider Top Stories